Calorie counting, Weight Watcher Points, If It Fits Your Macros, Atkins, the list goes on and on with the ways we can categorize our food choices when we are trying to lose weight. I have dabbled in all of those systems, and then some. They all have pros and cons, people who swear by the results they have achieved, as well as critics. When I participated in such plans in the past (or attempted to) one thing would always be the same no matter the terms of the plan; I would critique every single bite of food I ingested. And this was absolutely toxic for my success.
There has been one consistent shift in my relationship with food that I feel made it possible to lose 100 pounds and keep it off. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I made the change, but somewhere after about 20 pounds lost, I decided I would no longer pass a “judgement” on what food I was eating. Being “good” or “bad” in terms of eating was no longer going to be something that I determined for myself (and definitely not determine for others!).
So often throughout my failed attempts at weight loss I would play the game where I declared “I have been so GOOD with my eating! Now I’ve messed it up! I might as well throw in the towel and try again tomorrow/next week/after the holidays.” Have you ever done such a thing?
One could easily find me exclaiming, “Ughh! I ate so BADLY at lunch! Now I’ll have to work out forever to make up for it!!” Then I would research just how many calories worth of “BAD” I had been during my meal and try to formulate a joyless workout (that I likely didn’t even finish) to try to punish myself for being “bad” with my food.
I’m willing to bet that in the past I probably sized up my friends’ meals and compared them to my own. I probably said something to them like “wow! You’re so good, look what you’re eating!” followed by “Look at this mess! I’m being so bad right now with all of this bread and gravy on my tray”. Doesn’t happen anymore!
All of this is not to say that I don’t have various goals related to what I eat. I just leave the value judgement out of it. It’s a way of trying to be nicer to myself. I’ve finally relaxed about food and I highly recommend it!
Not often am I on any type of highly specific, strictly tracking type of meal plan. I like to think that I have become more of an intuitive eater. I was talking to my friend Kerry about my eating habits while visiting with her on a recent trip I was so fortunate to take to Boston. This is a loose representation of my average eating style:
Intuitive Eating According to Chelsea
- I eat when I’m hungry. I stop when I don’t feel hungry anymore, but almost always before I feel “full” and definitely before I am “stuffed”.
- Nearly all meals include protein, most often lean protein.
- I don’t actively avoid breads and other maligned carbs, but I eat way less than I used to and most of the time don’t feel compelled to eat them with every meal as I did in the past.
- I try to drink unsweetened drinks such as tea and of course water. I’ll drink soda, and if I do, it’s not going to be diet. I’d rather just have the full sugar version, thanks!
- Nutrient rich, lower calorie snacks come before indulgences I may be craving. If I still want whatever treat or snack it is, I’ll eat it, but just a small portion.
- When I eat savory or sweet foods I usually only eat my true favorites (again, in small portions). If it’s something I only kinda like or feel neutral about, I don’t even bother. I don’t eat anything just because it’s available or being offered.
That is my version of “intuitive eating” as it stands currently. 90% of the time I live this way. Of course there are days that I have more food than is necessary, why just a couple of weeks ago my family and I ate dinner at a buffet and I will say that I ate a bit too much, and way more carbs and sugar than usual. I had to sleep that off when I got home, but I can tell you I didn’t feel “bad” about it!
Does any of this resonate with you? How has your relationship with food changed, or how would you like it to change?
I am a runner and fitness fanatic who is dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle 80% of the time. I live in Texas and divide my time between raising 3 children, teaching, and living a fit life.